West Bloomfield Township Public Library
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Great Books About Language

Learn more about the power and history of language with this list of books.

Babel : around the world in twenty languages by Gaston Dorren

Lingo : around Europe in sixty languages by Gaston Dorren

Spins the reader on a whirlwind tour of sixty European languages and dialects, sharing quirky moments from their histories and exploring their commonalities and differences

Words on the move : why English won't and can't sit still (like, literally) by John H McWhorter

Language is always changing...John McWhorter shows how English has always been in motion and continues to evolve today. Drawing examples from everyday life and employing a generous helping of humor, he shows that these shifts are a natural process common to all languages. Words on the Move opens our eyes to the surprising backstories to the words and expressions we use every day

Lost in translation : an illustrated compendium of untranslatable words from around the world by Ella Frances Sanders

"An artistic collection of 50 drawings featuring unique, funny, and poignant foreign words that have no direct translation into English. Did you know that the Japanese have a word to express the way sunlight filters through the leaves of trees? Or that there's a Swedish word to describe the reflection of the moon across the water? The nuanced beauty of language is even more interesting and relevant in our highly communicative, globalized modern world. Lost in Translation brings this wonder to life with 50 ink illustrations featuring the foreign word, the language of origin, and a pithy definition. The words and definitions range from the lovely, such as goya, the Urdu word to describe the transporting suspension of belief that can occur in good storytelling, to the funny, like the Hawaiian pana po'o, which describes the act of scratching your head to remember something you've forgotten. Each beautiful, simple illustration adds just the right amount of visual intrigue to anchor the words and their meanings"--

The language wars : a history of proper English by Henry Hitchings

Between you & me : confessions of a Comma Queen by Mary (Editor) Norris

Mary Norris has spent more than three decades guarding The New Yorkers grand traditions of grammar and usage. Now she offers her vast experience in a charming language book as full of life as it is of practical advice

Garner's modern American usage by Bryan A Garner

A guide to proper American English word usage, grammar, pronunciation, and style features examples of good and bad usage from the media.

Cultish : the language of fanaticism by Amanda Montell

"From SoulCycle to Scientology, we're all obsessed with cults. Linguist Amanda Montell examines the language cults use to draw us in"--

Grammar snobs are great big meanies : a guide to language for fun and spite by June Casagrande

The prodigal tongue : the love-hate relationship between American and British English by M Murphy

"An American linguist teaching in England explores the sibling rivalry between British and American English. "If Shakespeare were alive today, he'd sound like an American." "English accents are the sexiest." "Americans have ruined the English language.""Technology means everyone will have to speak the same English." Such claims about the English language are often repeated but rarely examined. Professor Lynne Murphy is on the linguistic front line. In The Prodigal Tongue she explores the fiction andreality of the special relationship between British and American English. By examining the causes and symptoms of American Verbal Inferiority Complex and its flipside, British Verbal Superiority Complex, Murphy unravels the prejudices, stereotypes and insecurities that shape our attitudes to our own language. With great humo(u)r and new insights, Lynne Murphy looks at the social, political and linguistic forces that have driven American and British English in different directions: how Americans got fromcentre to center, why British accents are growing away from American ones, and what different things we mean when we say estate, frown, or middle class. Is anyone winning this war of the words? Will Yanks and Brits ever really understand each other?"--

When in French : love in a second language by Lauren Collins

"When New Yorker staff writer Lauren Collins moves to Geneva, Switzerland, she decides to learn French--not just to be able to go about her day-to-day life, but in order to be closer to her French husband and his family. When in French is at once a hilarious and idiosyncratic memoir about the things we do for love, and an exploration across cultures and history into how we learn languages, and what they say about who we are"--

The professor and the madman : a tale of murder, insanity, and the making of the Oxford English dictionary by Simon Winchester

Describes how more than ten thousand definitions were submitted for the first Oxford English Dictionary from Dr. W.C. Minor, an American Civil War criminal who was considered both a genius and a lunatic
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